Ahead of its full debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW has revealed the facelifted i3 range – which includes a sporty new range-topper with more performance and sharper handling called i3S. Market deliveries of the new range will begin in the autumn; prices start from £34,070.
It's core facelift stuff, although BMW has been more extensive here than is perhaps the norm, in order to keep the i3 looking fresh within a sector now facing the reality of the new Tesla Model 3. As such, there's an extensively remodelled front end with slick new bumper, the surprise standardisation of full LED headlights and the replacement of the old round halogen main beam lights with LED indicator strips.
The i3S has an even bolder front bumper with black inserts and colour bars, and its rear bumper is also 40mm wider than the restyled item on the standard model. Why's that? Because its rear track is 40mm wider, thanks to broader 20-inch alloy wheels. BMW even moves the i3 bootlid badges outwards on the i3S to accentuate its width.
Inside, BMW's latest 10.25-inch tile-based iDrive infotainment touchscreen features, as does a new array of digital connected services and standard Apple CarPlay. There's also a new interior trim option, with sustainable leather and wool.
Beneath the surface, the regular i3 sticks with 168bhp, with the larger-capacity 94Ah battery now standard. The i3S is boosted to 181bhp, which cuts 0-62mph from 7.3 seconds to 6.9 seconds – that's as fast as a Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch. The i3S also has bespoke spring, damper and anti-roll bar settings, plus Dynamic Traction Control, sport steering, a Sport mode button and a 10mm lower overall ride height.
You will also be able to recharge the i3 faster; BMW has optimised its i Wallbox and charging cable, so you can top up to a 112-mile range at home in under three hours – five times faster than if you use a domestic wall socket.
As mentioned, the 2018 i3 range starts from £34,070, or £29,570 once the government Plug-in Car Grant has been deducted. The i3S costs from £36,975, or £32,475 after grant. Adding the range-extender version to either model costs an extra £3150.